The Invisible Proof: A Review of the Reasons Why Photos of Osama bin Laden’s Corpse Remain Classified

Photos of Osama bin Laden’s corpse were not publicly released for several reasons. At the time of his death, the United States was in a

Eric Sof

Osama Bin Laden notorious Al-Qaeda Leader killed during the Operation Neptune Spear
Osama bin Laden (Photo: XY)

Photos of Osama bin Laden’s corpse were not publicly released for several reasons. At the time of his death, the United States was in a delicate situation, having just completed a multi-year manhunt for the world’s most wanted terrorist. The elite Navy SEAL Team 6 was responsible for carrying out the operation, known as Neptune Spear, that resulted in bin Laden’s death. However, the U.S. government recognized that no matter what actions were taken, not everyone would be satisfied.

One of the main reasons for not publishing photos of bin Laden’s corpse was the desire to show respect for his religion. In general, the American military has a policy of being aggressive in combat but gracious in victory, and displaying the body of an enemy leader in any form, including photographs, would be considered highly disrespectful.

Operation Neptune Spear: Daring DEVGRU raid on Bin Laden's secret complex
Operation Neptune Spear: Daring DEVGRU raid on Bin Laden’s underground complex (Photo: X.Y.)

Why did America not show Osama Bin Laden’s body?

Some individuals harbor deep-seated resentment towards the United States or seek to embrace conspiracy theories to compensate for other perceived shortcomings in their lives. No explanation or justification for the U.S. government’s actions will ever be satisfactory for these individuals. They may believe that the U.S. is evil, that extraterrestrial beings are controlling the government, or that Osama bin Laden is secretly living in upstate New York.

However, it is important to note that standard military procedure dictates that it would have been inappropriate to display a photo of bin Laden’s corpse publicly. Doing so would have been disrespectful and could have provided additional motivation for those who revered him for using his death as a rallying cry.

Therefore, the U.S. government chose a disposal method that was consistent with its policy of preventing bin Laden’s grave from becoming a shrine, respectful of the wishes of countries such as Saudi Arabia (which did not want his body), and appropriate for his religion (which includes the practice of burial at sea and the quoting of scripture).

Why photos of Osama bin Laden's corpse are still secret?
Why photos of Osama bin Laden’s corpse are still secret: The life and death of notorious terrorist (Photo: X.Y.)

“Traditional procedures for Islamic burial was followed,” the May 2 email from Rear Admiral Charles Gaouette reads. “The deceased’s body was washed (ablution) then placed in a white sheet. The body was placed in a weighted bag.

“A military officer read prepared religious remarks, which were translated into Arabic by a native speaker. After the words were complete, the body was placed on a prepared flat board, tipped up, whereupon the deceased’s body slid into the sea”.

Individuals who had a “need to know” could view the video footage and photographs of bin Laden’s death (and there were many of these individuals, including U.S. allies). Al Qaeda was convinced that the U.S. was responsible for killing bin Laden and attempted to use his death as a rallying cry.

It is worth noting that there are pictures of bin Laden taken by raiders after he was killed, and it is important to understand that a person who has died from a gunshot wound to the head will not look the same as they did when alive. While this may be difficult for some to accept, it is a fact. Ultimately, it is up to each person to decide whether or not to believe the evidence presented. Those who choose not to believe it may not be as relevant in this situation.

Why was Osama bin Laden buried at sea?

Osama bin Laden’s body was buried at sea shortly after his death for several reasons. It has been suggested that no country was willing to accept his remains, that the U.S. wanted to prevent his burial site from becoming a shrine for his followers, and that the U.S. wanted to dispose of his body as quickly as possible.

Suppose bin Laden had been buried on land. In that case, his grave would likely have become a shrine and a source of propaganda, potentially leading to further instability in the region and more violent attacks on non-combatants.

It is believed that bin Laden’s body was accorded proper respect and given a Muslim burial service before being laid to rest at sea. It is worth noting that the same burial method (weighted sheets) method was used for U.S. Navy servicemen who died in combat at sea during World War 2, which was in no way disrespectful. Failing to bury the dead properly would be far more disrespectful than the method used in bin Laden’s case, as thousands of families in New York experienced the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

Burial at sea
This undated photo released by the U.S. Department of Defense shows the casket bearing the body of a U.S. Navy Machinist being sent over the edge of the USN Aircraft Carrier during a Burial at Sea ceremony (Photo: DoD)

Eric Sof

Eric Sof holds a master's degree in Political Science, specializing in International Peacekeeping Studies. He has over a decade of experience as a former member of an elite counterterrorism unit. Additionally, he is a firearms instructor and currently serves as a member of the SWAT unit.


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4 thoughts on “The Invisible Proof: A Review of the Reasons Why Photos of Osama bin Laden’s Corpse Remain Classified”

  1. I don’t buy that story at all and I think he is still alive somewhere! Since when can we believe everything our government says??

  2. Why not? UBL is dead, and it only matters. I assume that at some point in future there will be disclosed some other proofs of his death. But,until then, there is no need for new conspiracy theories.

  3. He’s still alive and they are doing medical experiments with him. They grafted some pig parts on him to see how it would hold.

  4. The body of Brother leader was paraded in sirte, Saddam was mocked, with the Tall man is now a different story, as when the Americans started to respect, they know nothing about respect

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